The present generation of smartphones and other devices do a fine job of immersing us in digital experiences. Augmented reality takes a route different by magnifying our physical surroundings by enriching them digital data snippets.
Sounds curious, isn’t it? Well, the first augmented reality system took birth in 1992. Louis Rosenburg from the USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab developed what Virtual Fixtures which placed information atop physical objects. The idea was to improve worker efficiency by supplying information readily. The same concept was replicated at Boeing factories where aeroplane engineers used AR to visualize wire layouts on physical boards using computer-generated images.
Ever since then, the scope and capabilities of augmented reality has grown with leaps and bounds. Today, the few-inch smartphones that we use are capable of running heavy augmented reality applications. From scanning hotel menus to projecting vehicle operating manuals on running engines, augmented reality can display a great deal of digital information atop physical objects.
To say that AR would simplify everyday human life is a gross understatement. It will radically change the way we consume digital information is more precise.
In fact, every industry sector that is betting with digital transformation has augmented reality in their arsenal of digital tools. PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey has found 10 industries where AR-related investments are expected to pick up in the next three years.
‘Augmented’ reality check: The current state of affairs
All studies and statistics related to augmented reality cite a uniform theme: AR is riding a high growth wave. The availability of cheap sensors and highly-imaginative use cases in consumer applications are its growth drivers. The Pokemon Go game which became a global rage is a primer to its growth capabilities.
Studies by Bain & Company also predict that augmented reality adoption will increase 3x more than the present adoption rate of 13%.
Also with the emerging augmented reality trends, the first wave of AR will be dominated by the creative industry. Given the immersive experience that AR is renowned for, it is no surprise that video games, entertainment, live events and even a remotely associated retail industry would also adopt it rampantly.
Combined studies by McKinsey, World Economic Forum and Goldman Sachs forecast that the AR and VR will grow incrementally reaching as high as 50% of 2025. The creative market potential of AR is also pegged to be in the range of 4 to 27 Billion USD.
Gold in the mine: Market opportunities of augmented reality
“Ideas are a dime a dozen. The money is in the execution” goes the old adage. Right now, the tech world is all excited and pumped up about the possibilities of augmented reality. You can rightly imagine it to be a just-found gold mine that is rich with deposits. But, how much gold is there in the mine? What market opportunities can augmented reality bring to economic reality?
All marketing efforts are driven towards one purpose — make sales happen. Or, at least create a strong brand recall value so that customers come back to the business in the future. Traditional marketing efforts using billboards and online advertising are influential to a certain extent.
Augmented reality can help push the envelope to enable interactive marketing. Interactive marketing will give the user/customer real-time digital experiences in their physical surroundings.
Pepsi’s London bus stop ad for Pepsi Max rolled out in 2015 still remains one of the classic examples of augmented reality in marketing. Pepsi used AR to turn a bus shelter into a fake window on which AR illusions were played. The stunt not only entertained people who were waiting for buses, but also helped Pepsi reinforce its position as a savvy beverage brand.
Learning is not always an exciting thing. Especially when it is through bulky printed textbooks. Also, ensuring long attention span from students is also hard to come by. Augmented reality can help turn around that mundane feeling of learning with exciting animations.
For instance, biology lessons can be made exciting with real-time graphical illustrations of organisms, animals, human organs and so on.
In fact, the World Economic Forum reports on an AR app — RosieReality which is helping students pick up their first lessons on robot programming
Business data depicted in the pie charts, trend charts or plain spreadsheets can be hard to disseminate. Developing augmented reality apps can help visualize data in a better way, like through interactive gestures for data-driven decision-making.
AR can prove to be useful in data visualization not just in boardrooms, but even in factory floors. AR can arm users with a sort of X-ray vision that can help them see through an object external casing into its hidden interiors.
AccuVein is an AR-based medical imaging application that helps healthcare providers superimpose a patient’s veins as an image atop their skin. This helps in an easier location of the veins for administering blood draws and similar vascular procedures.
Navigating an unknown city for the first time can be nerve-racking. From asking for directions from strangers to spotting hotspots or even knowing more about a landmark, everything can be cumbersome. Mobile apps with augmented reality can turn things around for users. It can embed digital information above physical objects like landmark buildings, restaurants, etc. that can aid tourists.
The Augmented Future
Augmented reality would blur the lines between physical and digital worlds. Once AR reaches maturity, users may not be able to differentiate between real and the virtual world. We would live in a seamless world where digital information blends naturally into the physical world thus creating an augmented world. Those days of augmented future is not far from now.